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3rd Nov 2017

Red Dwarf (1988)

Can of Worms - S11-E6

Plot hole: At the end, Kryten, Rimmer and Lister are in a lift facing off six gelf shapeshifters, two mimicking Lister, two mimicking Rimmer and two mimicking Krtyen, in a Mexican standoff. Nobody knows who to shoot, as they might shoot the real person instead of the shapeshifter. The problem is that Lister, Rimmer and Kryten are all self aware - they both know they are not shapeshifters. All Lister has to do is shoot the two fake Listers, Rimmer shots the fake Rimmers and Kryten shoots the two fake Krytens, problem solved.

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Suggested correction: The point of a Mexican standoff is no one is in a position to shoot first for fear of being shot themselves. We're told the shapeshifters have no problem killing each other, so as soon as the real person starts to shoot, everyone may start firing, which could result in a real person being killed. Additionally, the only time all 9 are pointing guns at each other is in the lift. Before that, it's 3 groups of Listers, Krytens, and Rimmers, so no one is facing off with their shapeshifters. The only safe way to shoot the 6 shapeshifters would be to do it at the same time, and there's no way Lister, Kryten, and Rimmer could coordinate that. And, like all Mexican standoffs, it can only be resolved from outside help.

11th Oct 2017

Jonathan Creek (1997)

The Sinner and the Sandman - S5-E2

Factual error: Members of The Salvation Army do not gamble and do not buy lottery tickets.

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Plot hole: An important plot point (in the book and the film) is that Charles Calthrop - thought to be the Jackal, at that stage - played some mysterious part in the 1961 assassination of Rafael Trujillo, the dictator of The Dominican Republic, and rumours of his involvement came to the attention of MI6 and Special Branch, leading to the accidental exposure of the Jackal's false passport. In fact there is no mystery at all about the assassination of Trujillo and there were no shadowy foreigners involved. It was organised by Trujillo's own senior aides, amongst them General Juan Tomás Díaz, Antonio de la Maza, Amado Garcia Guerroro and General Antonio Imbert Barrera. The gunmen was later identified as Luis Aniama Tio. All the conspirators except Tio were arrested, tortured and shot. There was no panicked evacuation of foreigners who were involved with Trujillo's regime and no reason for them to be concerned - the government did not fall and Trujillo's brother Hector took over as President, ruling in a brutal and totalitarian manner for a further eight years. Any rumours of a mysterious Englishman would have been dismissed out of hand and would not have made it onto even the lowest level filing system anywhere in Whitehall.

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Plot hole: The arms dealer tells Special Branch detectives that Charles Calthrop - wrongly suspected to be The Jackal - barely escaped with his life when Rafael Trujillo, the dictator of the Dominican Republic, was assassinated in 1961. "The whole regime collapsed within hours." He tells them, relating how Calthrop was with the Police Minister at the time and had to flee, bribing a fisherman to take him off the island in order to escape the angry mobs of partisans who were rioting in the streets, indiscriminately killing anyone they thought had collaborated with Trujillo's regime. What cobblers. There were no partisans and no riots. Trujillo's regime continued uninterrupted. His brother Hector immediately took power and ruled absolutely and ruthlessly for another eight years. Calthrop would have nothing to worry about unless Trujillo himself had signed his pay cheque. Calthrop's alleged involvement in the assassination is a hugely important plot point as it inadvertently leads to the discovery of the false passport obtained by the Jackal and the uncovering of his false identity, and his name was only placed on file because of his rumoured involvement in events which simply did not take place.

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Factual error: The idea that anyone survived living in Pripyat Hospital is absurd. The uniforms of the doomed firefighters were stored in the basement and are so radioactive that anyone straying downstairs for more than 45 seconds has about a week to live. The ground and upper floors are far less radioactive but prolonged exposure - in other words, living there - would be fatal. Nobody could survive on the grounds for more than two or three months without receiving a lethal dose of radioactivity. Incidentally, prolonged exposure to radioactivity doesn't turn you into a deranged zombie - it turns you into a corpse.

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11th Oct 2016

Columbo (1971)

It's All in the Game - S12-E1

Factual error: Despite the fact that other officers are doing so, Columbo does not wear gloves while examining the crime scene. He also eats and drinks in the room - both absolutely forbidden - leaving eggshells scattered about the place. The crime scene is now totally compromised and nothing found can be used as evidence.

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Trivia: At the very end of the film when Gregory Peck and David Niven are standing on the deck of the warship watching the explosions, you can see a very distinctive injury on Niven's upper lip. During the filming of the sequence where the commandos climb the cliffs he was slammed into the rock face by the water dumped on them to simulate the waves breaking over them. The resulting infection put him in hospital. He complains about the indifference of the film's producers in his book "The Moon's A Balloon."

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10th Aug 2016

Star Wars (1977)

Stupidity: The Death Star comes equipped with a powerful tractor beam capable of capturing a ship the size and agility of the Millennium Falcon. Why don't they use it against the rebel fighters attacking them at the end of the film? Okay, Obi-Wan Kenobi turned it off earlier but I find it hard to believe that someone who has never before visited the largest, most complex space station in the Universe and who was previously unaware of its very existence can disable a fundamental security system but the people who designed, built and run the damn thing can't work out how to switch it back on.

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Suggested correction: A tractor beam has range, size of craft, and speed acquisition limitations. The reason the Millennium Falcon was caught so easily is that they expected a planet, Alderaan, coming out of hyper-space and were unaware of the Death Star's existence. The Beam's operators were able to lock on to the Falcon before they were aware something was wrong and start to dodge said lock on. The Falcon would not have been able to escape the docking bay without the tractor beam being able to lock back on to them. Hence the reason needed to power it down. Both the escape and powering down the tractor beam had to occur relatively at the same time so no one would realise the beam was down and able to power it back up before the Falcon was outside of the Beam's range. A tractor beam is capable of capturing a fighter but is a very difficult task to accomplish given the range and speed of the craft which makes trying to lock onto such fast moving targets extremely difficult. Also, it would be difficult due to the fact that craft like these tend to fly in packs, or close together, making locking on to a target complicating with craft bouncing and bobbing so close together. Another reason the empire would not likely bother to attempt tractor beaming fighters is that during dogfights, the craft are not just speeding and bobbing making a lock on difficult but they are just as likely to grab one of their own fighters in the process. Tractor beams are best used as they are during the opening of episode IV where Leia's flagship Tantive IV, a Correllian Corvette, is run down and captured by a star destroyer Devastator which used its tractor beams to capture and bring the Tantive IV into its docking bay. Tractor beams are not best used as weapons. As for how our esteemed elderly Jedi, Obi-Wan Kenobi, could find his way around... Well Jedi are know for their "mind tricks" and could have easily gotten someone he came across to tell him where he needed to go. Its also possible that while R2-D2 was finding the schematics and location of princess Leia he could have found, and should be looking for as well, the location of the power station needed and that given to Obi-Wan.

Factual error: The airliner keeps its undercarriage down far too long. Normally the wheels would be retracted while the aircraft was still over the airport - this one is almost at its cruising altitude before they do that.

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7th Jun 2016

Columbo (1971)

Old Fashioned Murder - S6-E2

Factual error: In common with many other episodes, Columbo and all the other police officers at the crime scene hopelessly contaminate it - none of them wear gloves or protective clothing. Not one artifact recovered from the scene would be usable as evidence.

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28th Feb 2016

Jonathan Creek (1997)

The Wrestler's Tomb - S1-E1

Factual error: During the examination of the crime scene at the beginning of the episode, not one of the Crime Scene Officers or any of the police on site wear latex gloves. The supervising police officer picks up a vital piece of evidence - a small bag of jewellery - with bare hands! They have hopelessly contaminated the scene.

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Factual error: In the opening scene all metallic objects are dragged upwards to the magnets on El Macho's aircraft, including the coins used by the Russian guards in their card game. No country on earth makes coins that are magnetic or capable of being magnetized - it's an important security consideration.

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4th Dec 2015

The Martian (2015)

Factual error: Towards the end of the film Watney is told to discard the heavy nose cone of the Martian Ascent Vehicle and replace it with a flimsy plastic sheet because the atmosphere is so thin that it will not be damaged despite the vehicle being accelerated to Martian escape velocity - nearly 14,000 kmh. But the storm caused massive damage earlier. It cannot work both ways - if the atmosphere is so thin that it won't dislodge a jury rigged plastic canopy from an accelerating spacecraft, it cannot possibly whip up a storm like the one we see.

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Factual error: Hannah's full name is Hannah Ásgeirsson. Icelandic surnames are (Father's name) sson for boys and (Mother's name) dottir for girls, so Ásgeirsson would be the surname of the male child of a man named Ásgeir. Her name should be Hannah Sigurbjörnsdóttir.

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28th Sep 2015

Jonathan Creek (1997)

The Sinner and the Sandman - S5-E2

Plot hole: Ian Avery-Cooper loses his lottery ticket which is immediately picked up and appropriated by Leonard Corbyn. However, Avery-Cooper immediately reports the loss to the shopkeeper who sold him the ticket. All lottery sales staff are trained in what to do under these circumstances, because it happens a lot - they cancel the lost ticket and issue a new one. Since Avery-Cooper used the same numbers every week this would not pose a problem, but even if he didn't the ticket would be recorded on the seller's computers and could be precisely reconstructed. This would be even easier since Avery-Cooper reports the loss within a minute of it happening and we see that he has the receipt for the sale in his hand. Corbyn's stolen ticket would be worthless and Avery-Cooper would be able to claim his rightful winnings.

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26th Jul 2015

Ant-Man (2015)

Factual error: Twice in the film it is made clear that the Pym particle works by reducing the space between atoms in order to shrink an object, and by increasing it to enlarge them. This means that the object will weigh the same, whether shrunk or enlarged - it cannot be otherwise. A 90kg man the size of an ant would punch a hole through any surface upon which he stood (and couldn't ride ants), Doctor Pym has been walking about with a 60 tonne tank in his pocket, Darren Cross lifts a full grown sheep between finger and thumb, and the supersized Thomas The Tank Engine would be far too light to crush the police car (in fact it would float harmlessly away as it would probably weigh less than the air it displaced).

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20th Jul 2015

Ant-Man (2015)

Continuity mistake: Scott's stubble changes dramatically in three consecutive scenes - when his boss sacks him it is quite pronounced, but on his way home it is much lighter, and when he enters the apartment it is back to full-on stubble again.

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15th Jul 2015

Ted (2012)

Plot hole: Ted calls on John to tell him that he saw Lori leaving her apartment with her boss. How did he find him? He turns up not only at the right hotel but the right room! They have had no contact since their fight after the party and Ted hasn't been asking around after John as he tells him he 'just saw' Lori leaving with her boss. So how did he find John? Is he psychic?

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Suggested correction: A week has passed since the breakup and we don't see anything that happened during that time. There's nothing in the film to indicate Ted didn't try to reconcile with John (such as through text) or at least find out where he's staying. The only reason Ted decided to go to the hotel is to tell John about Lori leaving with her boss because he knows that would be a big deal to him. And Ted went to Lori's to try to get her to take John back (probably because of things John said to Ted during the week we didn't see). Once Ted is at Lori's and sees her leaving with her boss, he goes to the hotel to tell John he "just saw her leave" with him.

Bishop73

Factual error: The pirates' map shows a drawing of Tower Bridge, which Pirate Captain sees through the telescope moments later. Construction of Tower Bridge started in 1886, and it was completed in 1894. Queen Victoria was 73 when Tower Bridge was completed, whereas she is in her late twenties or mid thirties here. The sign setting the film in 1837 also makes no sense given this timeline.

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25th May 2015

Top Gear (2002)

India Special - S18-E1

Revealing mistake: Watch the opening sequence of this episode very carefully - Clarkson, May and Hammond are not in Downing Street (they are on a set that stands on the BBC backlot) and library footage of the Prime Minister is cleverly edited in to make it look as if they were there at the same time. Even taking into account the fact that the Prime Minister's security service would never allow such an intrusion onto Downing Street, the line up of the shots does not quite match - our three intrepid heroes should be visible in shot when the Prime Minister is shown exiting number 10, but they are nowhere to be seen. It is all sleight of hand and clever editing, but detectable if you watch carefully enough.

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